Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Right around this time last year, one of the most exciting things ever happened to me. I opened my newly arrived issue of Art Journaling magazine and found a 5-page article about my Sudan/Barcelona travel journal right there in it. It wasn't exactly a surprise, however. I had mailed the journal to them for consideration months in advance, then had a very long wait before they told me it had been accepted. That was followed by weeks of answering their questions, and writing an article to go with the images and getting that approved. Then there was the shock of finding out that, unlike the first time, when I just had one image printed on a half page at the very back of the magazine,  I was actually going to get paid for this article! By the time the issue with my article came out, well, it was almost anticlimactic.

Months later, the fall issue showed up in my mailbox. I was doing my usual quick flip-through, sitting on the sofa next to my hubby, when I startled and gasped. "Was that what I think it was?" Yep, there it was, big as life -- a blown up segment of one of my journal pages, in the "Written Word" section, no less. Now that was a shock!

This image is not one of mine - just wanted you to see the description above it.
Well, guess what happened again this week, when the new winter issue came out? Yep, you guessed it. And, again, it was about the lettering.

Why am I so flabbergasted? Well, because my lettering is the thing I've always been most self-conscious about -- especially now that everyone is so big into lettering and calligraphy. The only bad grades I ever got in elementary school were in handwriting. I just can't keep anything in a straight line, and when I took that lettering class at art camp this year? Well, I enjoyed making the pen, but using it? Not so much. I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not a a slow-and-precise kinda gal. I'm more of a quick-and-messy one. And ya know what? I'm learning to be okay with that!

As my daddy was fond of saying, "Just shows tuh go ya!" We are our own worst critics, are we not?

Friday, December 7, 2018


Bounty From The Bountiful Sprout, A Local Food Co-Op I Helped Launch After Reading This Book
Many moons ago I read an amazing book that answered so many questions about what we eat and why, so I decided to share it as part of my "Year of Reading Dangerously" give-away back in '09.

Happy Reading, and EATING!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Believe it or not, by December 1st we'd already been to three Christmas markets, and the season hadn't even really begun! Two were markets that daughter Lex was selling her wares at, but the third was one we went to strictly because of it's location in the little town of Fischer, just down the road from the infamous Fischer Dance Hall and Fischer Bowling Club.

This particular event was being held at the old Fischer Store -- a building that has been there since the days when homesteaders drove their oxcarts there once a month, to pick up mail and dry goods.

The post office moved into an ugly-but-new building next door a while back, and I think the store is mainly just open on weekends now. It's more of a museum than a store, though they do have an assortment of vintage-style candies and their own t-shirts for sale. We weren't too excited when we first went inside. If I had to guess, I'd say the prime indoor spots had been set aside for the local, long-time residents, whose wares were nice, but not really what we were looking for. But those tents set up outside? Well, suffice it to say, we were able to cross quite a few things off our shopping lists that day!

Handmade Brooms and Hobby Horses
Tiny Clay Nativity Scenes and Pendants

We topped it all off by sharing a mouthwatering lemon-glazed poppy seed blueberry muffin, at the best little bakery booth ever.  She even had jars of her own special Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix for sale!

So next Christmas, remember -- Fischer Store Christmas Market. It's worth the drive!

Monday, December 3, 2018


To say we are excited about Christmas this year is a vast understatement. All who celebrate this holiday surely remember how your enjoyment of it waxes and wanes through the years. There's the giddiness of your own childhood memories, when the excitement was almost too much to bear, followed by the disillusioned years. Then comes the joy of having your own kids, nieces, and nephews to recreate the magic for, followed by years of having no little ones in the family at all, and losing your parents one by one. But this? Having your first grandchild finally old enough to really get it, and having the time and resources to spoil him rotten should I choose to do so (don't worry, I won't)? Well, NOTHING quite compares to this! 

The first noticeable change was in how I decorated. I started pulling out all the usual characters and placing them in all the usual spots, but when I opened  my huge crate of fragile ornaments I suddenly thought "NO!". Just, no. I refuse to spend this holiday chasing him around saying "No! Don't touch!" In fact, I still remember the shame and remorse I felt when I was about eight years old, and Mom asked me to plug the tree lights in. The plug was right behind the tree, and par for the course, Dad had connected way too many frayed cords, and I got a doozy of a shock when I plugged it in. Which, of course, made me jump, which, of course, knocked the tree over, breaking several of her "most treasured family heirlooms!" How could I forget, when the subject always came up, year after year?

So, nothing fragile went on the tree -- only kid-friendly stuff, and a few fun felty things I ran across at Ace Hardware, like that "Merry Christmas" garland and those fuzzy pink pom poms. I also love all those little white snowmen heads that Nate's mama Holly made for us. Pinch them open and you can hide little surprises in them, like Hershey's Kisses!

Anything fragile is just far enough out of his reach that he will need adult assistance to handle them.

We had our first test run yesterday, and the things he seemed most interested in were the ornaments his mama and Uncle Noonie made when they were in preschool, and that acorn ornament. When I handed it to him and showed him how to open it, he stared at the inside for a moment, then said "I know where we need to go. We need to go that way!", pointing his finger towards the far end of the room. Apparently, to him, it was a compass, and he spent the rest of the afternoon using it as one. Is there anything more amazing than the imaginative mind of a child this age? Now I remember why I love the terrible twos and threes so very much, no matter what anyone else says!

So, what are the favorite holiday activities you've ever done with the littles in your family. I'd love it so much if you would share some of your ideas here or in comments on facebook, regarding outings you liked to take and things you liked to make or bake or do. I'm sooo ready for our "Holiday Fun with Goober" to begin!

Thursday, November 29, 2018


One of the things I have always loved most about Austin, and our own little town just southwest of it, is that they are filled with creative people who actually care about our planet and the legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren to deal with. So, imagine our glee when daughter Alexis introduced us to this amazing place in Austin just last week -- a place called Austin Creative Reuse.

As the sign in the window explains, it's a place where all my fellow creatives can take those piles of artsy supplies they no longer use and that are taking up much needed space, then come home with a basket full of stuff they actually will use, for a fraction of it's original price -- stuff that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill.  And, they've got so much more than just paints and brushes. Why, they've got buttons and beads...

yarn and needles...

fabric and embroidery supplies...

not to mention all these pencils, markers, crayons and stamps!

And, to top it all off, there's a section in back where you can purchase all that you can cram into one of those big orange buckets for just five bucks!

But, that's not the only way people around here are putting their creative minds to good use.  A few weeks back, Austin artist and Lucky Star Art Camp instructor Heidi Miller Lowell came up with the idea of doing a clothing swap at art camp this year. She had a bunch of nice clothes she could no longer wear, and was looking for things in a different size, so she suggested that anyone who wanted to participate should bring a few things that were still in good shape, but no longer loved, and then take home a few new-to-them items they could get excited about.  It was kind of a last minute suggestion, so only a few participated (daughter Lex being one of them) but those who did had a blast, and a whole lot more will be participating next year. Think I'll be taking those cowboy hats and boots I never wear anymore, and which take up sooooo much space in my wee little closet!

Then, to top it all off, we just heard that our new favorite hangout,  Cactus Coffee Shop here in Wimberley -- owned and run by a single mom with three little ones -- is hosting a toy swap this Sunday at 1:30. Is that brilliant, or what? Just bring in a few toys that are still in good shape but no longer being played with, and take home a few new-to-them toys just in time for Christmas! So much easier than the laborious garage sales my neighbors and I used to set up and host when our kids were small, where we stayed up half the night pricing things, and sitting outside in bad weather the whole weekend, and ended up doing pretty much the very same thing, just swapping one neighbor's goods for another!

Genius, no? Wonder what they will think of next!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Wouldn't you know. The only mail I had waiting for me when I got back from art camp was a jury summons! I reported to the courthouse over in San Marcos yesterday morning, we sat there for a couple of hours doing absolutely nothing, then they sent us home and told us to come back today. Never had that happen before. Fingers crossed that I don't get selected. This is not how I want to spend the holiday season. For one thing, it would totally wreck that super schedule I spent so much time working on!

I decided to be sweet and make the bed before I left.

I might be a tad jealous that he's all warm and snuggly, while I have to head out for the frigid drive to San Marcos when it's only 29 F out!

Friday, November 23, 2018


I cackled out loud when a cute video about "Friendsgiving" popped up on Facebook recently. When we were living overseas, we celebrated many, many of these make-do holidays, where your friends and neighbors became your family, and you threw yourself into making the holidays special with more passion than ever before, so that your kids would never feel that they were missing out on everything good by being so far away. It worked. So well, in fact, that we ended up missing those holidays when we moved back home!

Ever since we bought this Hill Country house, and all our parents passed away, we've had very quiet Christmases and Thanksgivings here with just the four of us, celebrating with our Dallas family sometime in mid-December. Then it became the six of us. Then seven with the addition of Little Goober. Then suddenly both sets of in-laws and some siblings were close by and deserved equal time. So, since we'd all be together multiple times in the coming weeks, and since our BFFs are always alone on Thanksgiving Day, we told the kids "Go spend lots of quality time with your in-laws over Thanksgiving, 'cause we have plans for a Lanford Friendsgiving Adventure!"

Yes, that's a real live longhorn that lady just climbed up on!
We met up here, at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop, which is just about midway between our home and theirs in College Station.  We were just there for the day, and expected the place to be kind of dead this time of year, but that was not the case! Instead, it was jam-packed with lots of large family groups who decided to take their celebrations on the road. And what a great place to do it!

We went on-line to make lunch reservations well in advance, opting out of the huge holiday brunch buffet being held in the ballroom, and the fine dining steakhouse which, I think, only serves dinner. Instead we chose their Firewheel Cafe for 11:00. Then, around 9:30 on the morning of, we got a call from the hotel saying that particular restaurant was closing at 11, but if we came earlier we could have breakfast there. Well, that wouldn't work since by then, we just barely had time enough to get there at 11! So, instead, they switched us to their bar restaurant, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only was the food simple and delicious, it was actually quiet enough to have a real conversation!

Miss Paula and I split their version of a Bacon Jam Burger, and I have to say, I'd have a hard time choosing which is better, theirs or Hays City's! After lunch the guys and gals split up -- the gals to go exploring, they guys to find the perfect spot to smoke a cigar. Remember how, just recently, we had several hard freezes in a row, with temps dropping into the 20s at night? Well, this week we had this...

kids floating in the Lazy River, with gorgeous fall colors in the background. Only in Texas, right?

The River Runs Through It
The Favored Method Of Transportation Around Here  

 Loved the carved totem pole on the porch of one of several golf shops/bars/cafe's on the property.

It was the perfect place to smoke a cigar. In fact, they even sell them inside!

Then we all met back up at the lodge's ice cream parlor/cafe for dessert, to complete our celebration.

Best thing about these amazing friends of ours? It's that, whenever we are with them, we somehow forget that forty years have passed, and transform into the same crazy, fun-loving goof-balls that we were when first we met. Now, that's something to be thankful for!